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Bobby Cann Way Unveiled, Honors Bicyclist Killed by Alleged Drunk Driver

By  Josh McGhee and Paul Biasco | October 25, 2013 7:41am | Updated on October 25, 2013 4:02pm

 A portion of Clybourn Avenue will be dedicated Friday afternoon to cyclist Bobby Cann, killed in a traffic accident in May.
Honorary Bobby Cann Way
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OLD TOWN — Bobby Cann always preached bike safety, and now his legacy will live on near the spot where he died.

Cann, a 26-year-old cyclist, was struck and killed May 26 by a driver near the intersection of Clybourn Avenue and Larrabee Street, which now bears his name as "Honorary Bobby Cann Way."

Dozens of family members attended the ceremony. Many regularly travel to Chicago from the East Coast to attend court dates of the man accused of driving while drunk and hitting Cann. Family and friends also set up a website in Cann's memory.

One of Cann's cousins, Sam Field, 24, said the trek to Chicago usually feels "somber" — but Friday was different.

"This is a much better feeling then coming out for the trial. It kind of feels like a celebration," Field said after the ceremony. "It's a powerful feeling to see so many people loved and cared for Bobby. He left a mark in Chicago."

Field said the unveiling of the street for "the brother he never had" left him in "shock" and "awe."

"So many people told me Bobby turned them on to biking, told them about safety and being aware," Field said. "He'd feel good to know that he had such an effect on so many people."

More than 100 of Cann's friends, family and fellow activists huddled on the corner as Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) pulled off a white cover to unveil the honorary street sign. Maria Cann, Bobby's mother, gushed at all the support.

"This is why Bobby loved it here," Maria Cann, of New Hampshire, said. "We’ve been blown away by the community in Chicago and how everyone’s been so supportive. It's just incredible."

She said her son was humble and would be embarrassed by all the attention.

"When he was alive he would have not enjoyed the notoriety. Bobby liked doing things and did not like reflecting on what he had done. Once it was done he was ready to move on to the next," she said. "He wanted to make things better for people who ride bikes. He was absolutely a bike enthusiast."

The memorial site for the cyclist was covered with bouquets of flowers and messages in the days after the May 26 crash. Five months later, bunches of fresh flowers still line the chain-link fence near the site.

Ryne San Hamel was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence resulting in death. His next court date is Nov. 8.

Cycling advocacy group Critical Mass rode in his honor, and Groupon, Cann's employer, organized a "daily deal" that raised more than $40,000 for the Active Transportation Alliance’s Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign.

The alliance has been pushing for protected bike lanes along Clybourn Avenue, which falls under Illinois Department of Transportation's jurisdiction. Burnett said a protected bike lane will be added to the stretch of Clybourn.

State officials did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation. The state has blocked expansion of protected bike lanes on state routes until further traffic studies can be undertaken.